Booster

Clintonville not the match Hustler fantasized about

Adult store will close after 16 months; interest in building high

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DAN TRITTSCHUH/THISWEEKNEWS
Balloons mark the opening of the Hustler Hollywood store in July 2011. The store last week announced it would shut down at the end of the month.
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Franklin County Auditor's Office records show that in April 1920, the Olentangy Park Co. owned the parcel of land at 2761 N. High St.

The plot, part of Olentangy Park, the popular destination for roller-coaster rides and other thrills, was valued at $3,110. Today, it's worth $375,000.

While the amusement park offered entertainment for the entire family, entertainment geared specifically for adults didn't fare so well at 2761 N. High St. a century or so later.

Hustler Hollywood, the adult-merchandise boutique that opened in south Clintonville amid considerable controversy in July 2011, will close at the end of this month -- although it may not move out of the Columbus market altogether.

"Yes, the store in Clinton-(ville) is closing and we are looking to locate it in the near future," Arthur Sando, a veteran of public relations and marketing who was hired last July as head of communications for the Flynt Management Group, said in a voice message last week.

Sando did not return a call asking for additional details, such as the reasons behind the decision, the timing and where the enterprise might move.

"We are looking at a new location in Columbus," Dustin Olive, director of retail operations at parent company LFP Inc. in Beverly Hills, Calif., told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's just that Clintonville wasn't the right location for us. But Columbus is an area where we will call home, based on our favorable experience with customers there."

The imminent closing was confirmed by Eric M. Eldridge, vice president of commercial realty and property services for Dublin-based New Perspective Realty LLC.

Eldridge is trying to hustle up a new tenant for the building that housed the adult boutique, part of a chain of stores owned by Hustler magazine publisher and former Columbus resident Larry Flynt.

"In short, not putting words in Hustler Hollywood's mouth, but what I was told from one of the employees was apparently their prototype is a large, we'll call it a megastore, and this boutique concept was newer to them, and apparently didn't take well in the market, so they're closing up," Eldridge said. "As for who we would be looking for, a complement to the community is obviously important to us. I know Hustler wasn't exactly viewed as such, but someone that's viable for the long term and kind of fits with the mix for Clintonville is obviously our No. 1 goal."

An employee who answered the phone at the store last week declined comment. She said the manager, identified only as "Ronnie," would be able to discuss the situation, but he referred all calls to the corporate headquarters in California.

Hustler Hollywood did not join the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, said President Jenny Smith, who indicated she will hardly mourn the store's departure.

"There was a lot of hullabaloo when it opened and people calling the chamber asking how could we let this happen," Smith said. "As a resident of the community, it wouldn't be a store that I would seek out.

"The chamber had no interaction with them at all."

The news of the closing of the boutique was greeted with elation by Anand Saha, whose Mozart's Piano Cafe and Vienna Ice Cafe are located nearby.

"We're extremely thrilled about the decision of them leaving," he said.

Eldridge said interest in the property is already off the charts.

"It's pretty crazy," he said. "In my line of work, you never know what's going to hit. This is a very popular little property."

In an email to prospective tenants, Eldridge said the property is in great shape due to the improvements to the building and parking lot made by Hustler.

"I have yet to place a 'for lease' sign on the property and I've shown the space three times already," Eldridge wrote. "I'm letting you know of this opportunity, because at some point, we have discussed properties that could work for you. I wanted you to be one of the first to know of this not-yet-marketed opportunity."

Among many community members, the closing has been taken as good news.

When a Facebook page devoted to Clintonville announcements included word of the impending demise of the Hustler Hollywood location in the neighborhood, one respondent wrote:

"As I drove by a few days ago, I was just thinking how nice it would be if it went out of business. Now, I am going to imagine myself winning the lottery."

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